Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Whitegate walking...

Monday morning was perfect for walking the Whitegate Way - a light dusting of snow and bright sunshine. Whitegate is one of my favourite Cheshire villages.

The village grew adjacent to the entrance to a Cistercian monastery, whose brotherhood were known as the white monks- hence the name Whitegate.

A view across to the village and the spire of St Marys church.

Typical rolling Cheshire arable land

The church of Saint Mary was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as being 'placed so happily against trees on a hillside that it makes the perfect, comforting picture of the Victorian village church'.
(The Buildings of England: Cheshire, Yale University Press, pp. 381–382, ISBN 0 300 09588 0).
A chapel has stood on this site of the present church since 1277. Around 1728 the church was rebuilt in brick, the aisles were widened and the walls of the nave were raised to allow galleries to be built. In 1874–75 the church was rebuilt by Lord Delamere, the architect being John Douglas.

The lych gate at Saint Marys is a fine example of the traditional entrance to a British churchyard.

The gateway is really part of the church. It was where the clergy met the corpse and the bier rested while part of the service was read before burial.

It also served to shelter the pall-bearers while the bier was brought from the church. In some lych gates there stood large flat stones called lich-stones upon which the corpse, usually uncoffined, was laid.

The War memorial was built sometime after 1918 and is maintained in good order. The typical Cheshire red sandstone building in the background is the lodge house to the site of the once Cistercian abbey.

The mere on the edge of the village is a favourite spot with picnickers and fishermen during the warmer months.


  1. Charming photos! I want to take a stroll on this route!

    I really like your Russian looking snow pic header. Where is this?

  2. Delightful tour. Is the church and abbey still functioning? The process you describe of chapel to church and sometimes even to cathedral was fairly typical during the times. Allowed the church to continue to function as such while the "remodeling" was going on.

    I was totally in wonder at the functioning purpose of the lych gate. Thank you so for the enlightenment as to their purpose.